Of course, it used to be sunny and warm in July and August and I guess that’s why we British are stuck in a cultural warp of organising all our outside events during these months. And I did feel for the campers at HTB Focus this year, when we visited from Itchen Valley for a couple of days – happy to be returning to our beds each evening as the cold wind and rain swept the South Coast!
HTB Focus is an incredible event now held at the Somerley Estate in the New Forest
where all the churches planted by Holy Trinity Brompton and those who are inspired by them, get together each year to worship God glorify him, share food, tell their stories, encourage, laugh, dance, pray, comfort and are filled by the Holy Spirit. The aim is to be transformed so that they might return home and transform their workplaces, their homes, their communities and the nation in the name of Jesus Christ. There is some seriously cool music and some amazing teaching particularly this year from RT Kendall, which can actually be life changing. It is in any event very good fun indeed.
Another event which is also spectacular is the New Wine summer conference – which is open to a wider range of churches and again is also amazing
If on the other hand you are not so keen on camping, the Stewards Trust organises summer house parties usually based at boarding schools which are empty during the long summer holidays. Lucy and I have just come back from the Kingham Hill house party. It was just fantastic. Revd. Jonathan Perkin led the teaching – a great series on Isaiah – probably life changing, we had some fantastic worship sessions, played tennis and croquet, discussed difficult questions and I honestly don’t think I have laughed so much as I did from the talent show – in fact, I woke up laughing the following morning!
We have been attending these Summer Houseparties every Summer for 18 years (and indeed led this one for five years) and the same people and their children form the core of the group who attend – there were perhaps 150 of us this year. There is a real sense of family – a family to which new members are added every year. We have a seating plan for dinner which ensures that new couples arriving get to meet everyone during the course of the week – so there is no sense of cliques – and very soon it feels as if you have known the other families all your life. There are opportunities to talk over and pray over the big issues facing you in your life with people at a similar age and stage. It is just so encouraging!
Our children, whom we first brought to the house party in 1999 as babies, are now qualifying as doctors, lawyers etc, one has just left Sandhurst and some are starting to bring their own babies! Many have worked for Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong during their gap years, helping drug addicts out of their addictions, through the power of the Holy Spirit. But all, in their different ways, seem determined to change the world – an exciting and inspired generation!
Every year the house party has been an incredible moment to reflect with Jesus on which way our lives our going and to re-engage with His call on our lives. Many people find that it is through the work of the Stewards Trust that their children have become and remained Christians through their teenage years and young adulthood, despite all the incredible temptations of the modern world, which beckon disaster at every turn. I cannot praise and thank the Stewards Trust and their youth workers (Christians who have recently left university) enough!
In addition to the Summer Houseparties, the Stewards Trust runs Christmas and Easter camps which just the kids attend which are fantastic fun as well as leading them in closer contact with Jesus while giving them an opportunity to revise for their exams!
(When having a look at the Stewards Trust website The Stewards Trust website– I found a video interview with a former Stewards Trust youth…Chow Mezger of Easton talking about Judes Ice Cream with two of the Stewards Trust youth workers!)
So if you are interested in attending any of these events for 2018 – please do let me know soon (they get booked up early) and we could perhaps put together a group from Itchen Valley! Fun, friends and life changing – what more could you want from a summer holiday?